I’ve always been partial to handicapping wide point spreads, which are more likely to arise in college football than in the NFL markets.
The reason is simple – a big spread simplifies the handicapping. Picking a (-4) line ATS involves an awful lot of potential scenarios that could take place in the 4th quarter. Is the underdog coach conservative enough to try a field goal when losing by a touchdown? How will the favorites proceed if they can put the game to bed with a TD or take a slender lead with a chip shot?
Meanwhile, choosing a side of the market on a big, fat, wide Las Vegas spread reduces things to an easy either-or proposition. If a 5 or 6-score underdog plays reasonably well, and the 2nd half scoreboard flashes any kind of a tight margin, then the cupcake is going to cover ATS. If the speedy favorites manage to romp from the start? Then the underdog is highly unlikely to cover ATS…unless it’s UConn in mop-up time against UCF.
FBS conference games tend to be a little closer even when it’s a David vs Goliath match-up for the same reason that Sin City handicappers are loathe to put double-digit spreads on Sunday kickoffs. The NFL can be viewed as a 32-team “conference” in which all teams have similar backgrounds and about the same level of athleticism.
But in 2019, that trend of “quality loss”-based parity where even “bad” NFL teams lose by a TD or a field goal to “good” teams is falling by the wayside. There appear to be some genuine stinkers in the mix, National Football League rosters which are already, in the words of a scout I know, “just going through the motions.”
That’s gonna lead to some steeply short/long NFL odds…and some of those lovely wide point spreads.
Who: New England Patriots at Washington Redskins
When: Sunday, October 6th, 1 PM EST
Where: FedEx Field, Landover, MD
Lines: NE (-16) at WASH (+16) / O/U Total: (42)
Bad news first for the underdog – Washington is off to a historically bad start, struggling on both sides of the ball. The defense has allowed 118 points through 4 games. The offense has not been much better, only averaging 16.5 PPG, and there is already more controversy brewing at the QB position.
QB Case Keenum was pulled from a 24-3 loss to the New York Giants after a 6-for-11 start in which he threw for just 37 yards and an INT. Dwayne Haskins took the field and promptly threw 3 more interceptions.
Haskins will play this week as Keenum clearly isn’t ready, and the OL has produced few holes for veteran RB Adrian Peterson.
You’d expect New England to be putting up a lot of points with Tom Brady’s continued dedication to the NFL, but a dynamite defense has led the club to a 4-0 start instead. Shockingly for what has been a bend-but-don’t-break type of unit over the past decade, the Pats also lead the league in sacks and interceptions.
Veteran linebacker Jaime Collins Sr. has been all over the field, recording 17 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and intercepting 3 passes. Devin McCourty is also off to a fantastic start with 4 INTs. These numbers are essentially unheard-of for good weather games early in the year when offenses are fresh, and given that in the modern era, picks (and sacks against above-average pocket QBs) are on the decline to begin with.
Brady is averaging just over 265 yards passing per game, and currently holds a very solid 7:1 TD/INT ratio, exactly the game-manager that the Patriots need him to be at this stage of a long, celebrated career:
Tom Brady was happy the Patriots won Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, but he wasn’t happy. The pursed lips, the pressed smile, the barely discernible moue when talking about the offense’s performance, or lack thereof, that facetious introductory comment about a “riveting performance,” all stood as signs that Brady was swallowing this 16-10 win, as well as his pride…It wounds Brady deeply to guide an offense that goes nowhere.
With the offense sputtering and wheezing in Orchard Park, N.Y., Brady reverted to game-manager mode during yet another dominant defensive performance by the Patriots. He can do that, but it’s not what he wants to do at this point in his illustrious career. Too bad, Tom, you might have to embrace it. With a defense this special and an offense this wounded, Brady should take a Hippocratic oath in the huddle: first, do no harm.
The Washington Redskins are comprised of professional athletes, playing for an NFL team. They’re hosting a defending champ that hasn’t been putting many points on the board. That may make the ‘Skins a poor moneyline underdog but it makes them a decent bet to cover the spread.
New England loves to defy expectations, but the expectation in Las Vegas seems to be that the Redskins present a “get-well” opponent for the Pats’ slow-paced offense.
I’m not so sure. It’s a “32-team conference” game after all.
Take Washington to cover (+16).